Were the Motives of the Crusaders Primarily Religious or Economic? Essay

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Were The Motives Of The Crusaders Primarily Religious Or Economic? Some historians argue that the Crusades were a necessary response by Christendom to the oppression of pilgrims in Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. While some may say that this was the case, others claim that it was political imperialism masked by religious piety, or that it was a social release for a society that was becoming overburdened by landless nobles. Christians commonly try to defend the Crusades as political or at least as politics masked by religion, but in reality sincere religious devotion by the Christians played a primary role in motivating the Crusaders. Obviously, there would have been a variety of motives for each individual Crusader. Nonetheless there was a common set of motives from which such responses might have been built, and as Jonathan Riley-Smith observed when specifically tackling this question, without some generalisation we cannot advance in understanding. He also observes, prior to a spirited explanation of his own choice in this debate, the emphasis of different historians’ generalisations has varied considerably. Some factors historians have taken into account in recent years include piety, millennial hysteria, fame and glory, hate, land hunger or simple material greed. All these factors would have weighed on each individual to a varying degree, but it still does not give us the main motivation for a Crusader. Religion played a key part in motivating the Crusaders, as in order to go on a Crusade you would need a vast financial backing to be able to afford it. We have many charters from would-be-pilgrims mortgaging, pledging or selling property to the Church in order to go, documents which Riley-Smith has all but made his own. Naturally the church was an obvious source of finance but is also the institution which preserves the charters and therefore perhaps not the only

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